Saturday 15 July 2006
Cops flex muscle at women
HYDERABAD: Recently when a group of engineering students revolted against the EAMCET fee hike, lathi-wielding cops mercilessly beat them. While the aggressive attitude displayed by the police may not come as a surprise to some, what did seem jarring was the lack of women constables to handle female protestors, leaving them to be manhandled by male policemen.
Press photographs show that the girls had been thrown to the ground and beaten by the cops. “It was a very bad sight. We were jostled, pushed and abused by the cops as if we were thieves. What was most surprising was that there was not one single woman constable in sight to handle the situation,” complains Swapna Rani, a student agitator.
Though the laws clearly state that when there is a law and order situation involving women, there should be lady constables present, that was not the case here. When asked for an explanation, additional director general of police, (law and order) P.V. Naidu, said, “I too noticed that in the photographs, but it is incorrect to say that there were no women constables. A few women constables were present but the female students overpowered them. Our entire women’s police force was present was at the spot.”
However, this was hotly disputed by those present during the protest. Many students insist that only male constables manhandled the girls at the spot, a fact that has got several students organisations agitated enough to want to contact the Human Right Commission.
“Who says that lady constables were present? It is completely untrue. We are students and would like to be treated as students. How can they pull girls by their legs and drag them? As a student, I appeal to the authorities to prevent this behaviour. If we students do go out of control, then we should be handled as per the demands of the law and not like cattle,” says G.I. Eswaraiah, member of the All India Youth Federation.
A few students also allege that certain SIs and CIs even spat on the students to convey their disgust. When the National Commission for Women was contacted, they stated, “It is against the law for male cops to handle women. In a situation where the ratio of girls and boys is equal, the entire women’s force should be called on duty. In any case, for a lathi charge a proper magisterial order is required.
So, the students organisations should demand to be shown this order find out who ordered the lathi charge and whether there was mention of lady constables in the force who were present to handle the situation,” said Gurpreet Deo, Deputy Secretary, National Commission for Women.